ForestDemon's thoughts on Mortal Kombat X

Discussion of the upcoming Mortal Kombat X for PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One, with its release scheduled for 2015.
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ForestDemon
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After coming back to Dave's MK, I figured I would give some of my thoughts on the game. While I do not have the game myself, I have played it several times on the X-Box One at a friend's house. The first time I played the game, I played through the entire story mode as I did not want to spoil myself on what happens in the later chapters via YouTube. After beating story mode, I watched all of the endings. For right now, I'm just going to cover one major aspect at a time as there is a lot to say, and I'm sadly short on time due to my personal life.

Gameplay

I enjoy the gameplay overall, but there are some aspects I would have liked differently. Starting with some positives, I do like the aspects drawn from Injustice such as having the move and frame data. It's a nice touch that gives reference material to players to learn which moves are safe/unsafe. I had noticed that for some moves, there could be more information added to give a better idea of its function. An example would be listing its effect on hit such as "stagger" or "launch". I do appreciate that the hit levels are more accurately listed as MK9 was weird about that. However, there are still high attacks that chip damage crouch-blocking opponents, but that's not too bad.

One immediate thing to notice is the overall movement. It feels different in the last MK in that there's more of a weight to the characters, and running is something of an important component. Personally, I would have liked running to be activated more like in MK vs. DC in which you press forward, forward and hold forward. However, I do understand that doing the forward, forward, block allows for being able to do inputs for run combos without holding down a direction. I like the distinctiveness of the jumping attacks with each character as it does go back to the older MK games. I still prefer the concept of having NJ1 (neutral jump attack 1) functioning as a combo starter like in MK3-MKG while NJ2 (neutral jump attack 2) acts as the ground bounce. Again, this is something from MK vs. DC that i prefer over MK9 and MKX. Another thing is that one of the neutral jump kicks should have functioned as an anti-air much like in previous MK games. These might sound like little nitpicks to some, but to me, it does help to have an array of functional attacks to cover different situations.

It's really nice that practice mode has a lot more options, and it helps that you can switch variations without having to go back to the character select screen. For stage interactables, they are a nice return, and it's great that there aren't any that are unblockable. I personally prefer the interactables that involve moving the character. The return of the stamina meter is a good idea, but I do feel it's unnecessary to have the entire meter be drained after using a kombo breaker since kombo breakers themselves cost 2 bars of super meter. This game is certainly more meter-dependent than the the last, which is fine as long as super meter isn't difficult to regain.

One big problem I have with the gameplay is that uppercuts do too much damage. In my opinion, they should have been around 10.00% damage instead of 14.00%, especially considering that Cryomancer Sub-Zero's uppercut hits mid instead of high. Another problem I have is that special move inputs, while much better streamlined compared to the MK games of the Midway days, are not always as smooth as I feel they should be. For one thing, there's no real need to have half-circles as it makes things needlessly complicated. There's also the ridiculous "forward, back, forward" in Liu Kang's Bicycle Kick and Windmill Punch. To me, it works best to mainly have quarter circles and "back, forward" with the occasional "down, up" and "down, down", especially since NRS is trying to appeal to both casual and high-level players. I do at times have issues with the "back, forward" input for some special moves as I don't find it to be as smooth as a quarter circle motion. In my opinion, it would be nice if certain types of special moves had better streamlined inputs such as horizontal high/mid-hitting projectiles having a qcf+fp (quarter-circle forward + front punch) input to make characters more easily accessible.

Getting to the variations, I actually like them overall. It's a nice way to be able to discover a preferred way of playing a character. Unfortunately, some characters do get the short end of the stick in terms of the concepts of certain variations while another issue lies within the execution of said concepts. With so many variations come balance issues and also taking a long time to figure out the entire meta game. Looking at a character's core moves does help give a good idea of his/her strength (from a technical standpoint). On a side note, it's a nice little Easter egg to have a "no variations" mode, and I tried that out with several characters such as Reptile and Erron Black.

Since Ed Boon and co. want to try something different for each installment, I can't imagine seeing variations return in the next MK, at least not three. Perhaps 2 variations per character would be better as it could allow for other characters to have a chance for their own unique set of moves. While this doesn't directly affect me, it is upsetting to hear that the online connection is less than stellar. Perhaps if NRS used GGPO for their games, the netcode would run more smoothly, and it could in turn retain good life to the games themselves.

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That's all I have right now for gameplay. When it comes to specifics for characters, I'll do that in a character breakdown next time.
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adamDMK
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Fantastic write-up ForestDemon! And welcome back to DMK!!
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Holy Grail
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Amen to that! Great little article there! Good to see a technically minded gamer like yourself speaking their mind with such clarity and insight.

My only question is, why the heck haven't you got the game yet? :p
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ForestDemon
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Thank you for the kind words, guys. I really wanted to get the PS3 version as I have that console, and I don't have much interest in buying a PS4 or an X-Box One. Money is something of an issue right now, and I have other things that will be going on in my personal life that will be keeping me pretty busy.

Anyway, I will be touching a bit more on the gameplay in this post before I get to the story and characters. Talking about the story and characters will involve saying a lot in of itself, so I'm going to continue pacing myself. It seems that monthly patches are going to be a thing with MKX. I don't mind monthly patches for fixing core game issues, but changing up the actual movesets so frequently makes it difficult to get adjusted to him/her. When it comes to modifying movesets, that should be something done in patches that come out about every 3 months. You would still have patches, but it would be drawn out a bit more to maintain life of the game.

Touching back on meter, maybe it would be a bit better to have only 1/4 of the entire stamina meter be used up for each backdash. Also, having characters build super meter when blocking attacks could make better utility of the push block (block breaker) so that there can be more of a solid defense in this game.

Now, I want to touch on specific characters' gameplay. I'm going to go in alphabetical order and post some characters at a time.

Cassie Cage

Cassie is a character of whom I haven't played too much, but she can be fun. I see her being based mainly on rushdown which works for her. Conceptually, I do like all three of her variations, but she doesn't have too many special moves overall. She comes off as a fairly basic character, which is fine as long as she's fun to play and balanced well enough. I'm not sure which variation of hers is my favorite, so I'll have to get back to her at some point. On a side note, I have to nitpick about the input for her Glow Kick being b, f + bk as it's an angled-upward anti-air attack.

D'Vorah

D'Vorah is another character of whom I haven't played too much. She certainly has a lot of unique moves, and I kind of like Venomous the most due to the poisonous ovipositor attacks.

Ermac

Ermac has changed a fair bit, so it took a bit of time getting used to him. Conceptually, I like all three variations, but Mystic is the least interesting, in my opinion. Spectral is my favorite, because he has a flying move similar to Raiden's Electric Fly. Master of Souls is an interesting variation, and that soul projectile can be nasty.

Erron Black

Erron Black is a fun but technical character. What hurts him a bit is having those three directional inputs for his specials, because it can be a problem doing another one of his specials. Outlaw is his best variation, but I do like the concept of al three. I don't really bother using Gunslinger as I need to give that more time. Marksman was a disappointment as I really like the rifle aspect.

Ferra/Torr

Ferra/Torr is actually pretty fun and comes off as an underrated duo. They can do good damage and have good reach with their attacks. I don't really use Ruthless, but Vicious is the one I mainly pick due to emphasis on Ferra. Lackey will probably be his most overlooked variation as it's basically the Bane variation minus the Venom power boost. However, I don't mind it that much, and it can be fun to play every now and then.

Goro

Goro is a decent character who feels pretty balanced overall. With the upcoming patches, he sounds like he's going to be boosted a fair bit. It was nice that his f + bk became an overhead as it does give more menace to his normal moveset. Tigrar Fury is the only variation I don't like as it doesn't make sense for his character, and I just find it to be boring. For a character like Goro, I can imagine that it's a bit tough to come up with three complete variations for him. I was a bit surprised that he didn't have a variation that was centered around a lot of command grapples. That is something NRS could have adapted from Sheeva's command grapples from MK9.

Jacqui

I actually think Jacqui is a pretty fun character. She moves pretty fast and can do some fairly decent damage. As I'm learning characters, I'm not too combo-heavy with Jacqui. I'm more about the footsie game and a sort of hit-and-run play style with her, or at least with Shotgun, my favorite variation. High Tech is an interesting variation, but I have to get used to its set up of building the levels in her gauntlets. Full Auto feels somewhat cheap with the rapid fire projectile, and I'm not sure how much of that variation I'll be playing. One thing that bothers me about Jacqui is that I don't get as much of that kickboxer vibe in her special attacks as I would have liked more kicks instead of punches. As I'll get to in the character/story discussion, she could have had another array of specials if her character concept were different.
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